I'd heard great things about Wille and the Bandits, a good friend who writes for the website (Tattooed Ginge) in London was going on about them non stop a few weeks back so when they announced a show in Exeter, I knew that we had to be there.
We arranged an interview with the band before the show so we arrived nice and early to find them sound checking, we waited patiently in the bar until we were called through to the green room where the 3 guys were relaxing, ready for our barrage of questions.
For the next 20 minutes, we chatted about sleeping prostitutes, dogging and alcoholic sound engineers, read on to see what other dirt was dug....
What have been the highlights of the tour so far?
I'd say the show in London at The Borderline which we sold out was one of the best things on the tour, selling out in the capital was great, saying that, all shows are great and we enjoyed playing them all. We did have quite a strange experience at one of the shows but we won't talk about that....
You can't NOT tell us about it now can you?
We got directed by a fan at a gig in Bury to a park where we could park up and sleep overnight (we sleep in the van when on tour), there were promises of a bacon buttie van there the next morning so off we went, at about 1:30 in the morning it was apparent that it was one of Bury's busiest 'dogging' spots! It was like Piccadilly Circus, we left our interior light on and wondered what all these voices were around the van....we saw a minibus so we’re unsure if they were driving people in to take part or not, very odd. We ended up moving after a while but the drummer did go for a wander and there wasn't that much happening....
Any low points (apart from the dogging)
Nothing to report, all the shows were great, no breaking down on the road, we did Holland and now we're in the UK and then we're off to Germany for a few dates.
Do you find your audience changes depending on which country you're playing in?
Definitely, we have played all over, we find that people on the continent are a lot more reserved, the UK's audiences are a lot more lively, the Dutch are quite noisy as well, we feel much more at home when in Holland as the crowds just compare to the UK ones. Germany is interesting, you can literally hear a pin drop! We get a good response from wherever we play really, we enjoyed Belgium, this is where we recorded or live album.
Have you ventured out to the Far East yet?
Not yet, we're hoping to, there was a bit of interest in Dubai but not sure what happened with that, we're hoping to get to Australia and America next year.
You guys have been compared to Cream and Hendrix, what did you listen to growing up?
Cream and Hendrix!! All sorts of stuff really, we like a mixture of rock and blues, older slide blues players, Blind Willie Johnson etc, Pearl Jam, RATM can all be heard in our sound. We used to listen to a lot more jazz but find the older we get, our tastes are getting simpler so whereas we'd used to enjoy quite technical stuff from the likes of Weather Report , Coltrane etc, we regularly find ourselves going back to the staple stuff like Clapton. The drummer then added that he enjoys "metal and weirdness", lots of Frank Zappa and quite heavy stuff from throughout the 90's
Do you ever disagree on the eventual sound that the band produces?
We all just do our own thing really, it just comes together, different influences all in one big pot and the end result is what we all like.
What's your top album of 2015 (so far?)
Oh god, I'm not really up on new music, the last album I heard that really stuck with me was by Rival Sons, it's called 'Great Western Valkyrie' (released in 2014), a lot of my music dates back to the 70's as I feel that music was way more creative back then, more time was given to develop their sound whereas these days, it's all about getting an album out, market it and I feel that a lot is lost in the development. I'm not saying that there aren't any decent artists or bands about these days, I just feel that they aren't given the chance to breathe as much as they would like to....
We also really enjoyed the new Pink Floyd album, it’s not as good as their old stuff but really enjoyed it. I rarely check when an album was released, if I like it, I like it!
If you're like me and get sent a LOT of music, it's hard to keep up and it's sometimes months later that I 'discover' a band and get into them.
There was a track that we really liked last year, it sounded like it was made in the 80's, I think the guy's called Gotye (he's referring to 'Somebody That I Used To Know'), I could have sworn it was written in the 80's, it sounded like something that Journey would have done! It’s hard to find all the great music, we're all bombarded with it and it's normally the more independent artists that get missed but have the more interesting and better material!
Harry Manx put out a great album recently, he's a really good Canadian artist, go check him out!
Your last album was 'Grow' which was released in 2013, any other material in the pipeline?
Yes we do, we're hoping to release a new album in the Summer of 2016, it's being released on a label this time so we should get a bit more backing with it. We have thrown a few new tracks into the setlist to warm people up with them and see how they go down, they're going down really well on all the dates we've recently played so we're looking forward to getting them out there properly.
Where are you planning on recording it?
It's a studio in Norfolk, it's purely an analogue studio so everything is recorded to tape, proper old school approach. We always wanted to go back to basics so that should be fun. A guy called Dave Williams is producing the new album, he's done a lot of stuff over the years and has a good ear and also has the ability to work the analogue equipment which is an art in itself, no computer screens in sight! It'll be funny having to rewind the tape every time we need to do another take.
But surely being the professionals that you are, you'll nail it all in just the one take anyway?
Can you guys share any of your favourite memories from the stage?
The drummer can never remember doing the gig, a mixture of alcohol and nerves (possibly even a bit of old age thrown in too?) During our pub gig days, Wille always used to sit at the front of the stage and he's had people throw up on his pedal board before, smash the microphone into his face....
This was meant to be 'favourite' memories guys....
Oh sorry, I thought it was just 'memories'!
Well they're clearly not memories that Wille will want bring back up again are they?
I think supporting Deep Purple around Europe was pretty special, we played a load of arenas and that was pretty special. The bass broke during the last track of the last show of the tour and Wille and the drummer had to break into an impromptu jam in front of 8000 people, trying to pretend it was part of the act, the jam just went on for ever, at the end of the set, the bass player was sweating buckets!
What would you say is the best advice that you have ever received as musicians?
Keep going? Do it for the the love not the money!
Don't stop believing? (or is that a bit cheesy?)
If you could share the stage with any musician dead or alive, who would it be?
We've never been asked that before.... It changes a lot but I think Hendrix, which could be a complete nightmare but lots of fun! There are loads of people that we'd like to meet but sharing the stage with them could be quite a different affair, the bass player wants to meet lots of bass players but sharing the stage with them all would be confusing! He'd also liked to have played with Pink Floyd when Roger Waters left (Wille added that he would have been about 3 years old!) They’d just have to bin off Guy Pratt and there’d be an opening! Frank Zappa would be pretty awesome too as he normally uses 2 drummers so I could play as well as them as the 3rd drummer and I wouldn’t have that much to do! Or maybe Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater, all our dreams have come true as they’re opening for us tonight!
If you could have ANY item at all on your rider, what would it be?
I reckon one of them ‘flow-rider’ type surfing machines, that would be amazing. We’d just surf all the way up to the gig and then take to the stage soaking wet! I think somewhere to lie down is quite nice and some sugary drinks too….
Somewhere to lie down?
Sorry, I thought you said ‘someone’ to lie down, like you’d invite a hooker into the dressing room to lie down for a while….
I do have a fetish for tripping over people!
With a sugary drink in your hand?
(I referred to the rider that was in the dressing room, ciders, lagers, food…) Are you hoping to get through that lot BEFORE you go on tonight or do you adopt a strict ‘No Alcohol’ policy before you play?
We’ve been quite good on this tour, taking it quite easy, it’s mainly the sound engineer that ploughs through the rider then spends the entire gig claiming not to able to hear the screaming feedback or crackling leads! He just blocks it all out!
So, what’s next for WATB?
Germany next, then we’re back on the road in the UK for Feb/March and then the album, then festivals, constant touring basically.
Which festivals are you planning for next year?
We have already been confirmed for Cropredy, we’re also doing a couple in Germany, they’re all starting to come in now, maybe Glastonbury
Did you do Glasto this year?
No, we did it last year. We're really looking forward to Cropredy it's great, it just works for what we do and we always go down really well
We called it a day there as the support band had piped up and they were itching to get out and see them play. We thanked the guys for their time and left them to blast through the rider prior to stage time. As we left the 'Flow-Rider' was just being delivered into the loading bay!
Interview by Nickie Shobeiry and Steve Muscutt
Why not spend a few minutes checking out their social media pages and website, they're all listed below along with a video of their latest track 'Forgiveness'.